To boldly go where no mom has gone before… My Vulcan ears point straight up as I take a trek into another galaxy. I tune in to the ringing sound and try to decipher whether it is the landline, a cell phone or Father Time himself as I scramble to answer the ringing call. When I was growing up my mother told me potatoes would grow in my ears if I didn’t clean them. My concern is my kids’ eustachian tubes being bugged with a cell phone causing a permanent buzzing. Parents are handing out cell phones like Halloween candy because times have changed. Now Tinnitus is not just a syndrome anymore but a physical condition know as cellphoneitis. It travels from the lobe to the shoulder down the arm and takes over your hand like Thing in the Addams Family. Kids may not be born with a silver spoon in their mouth, but they certainly have a hand on a cell phone.
A cell phone holds my son’s attention like no human eyes can. The first thing he looks at in the morning is a screen. The second thing he looks at during breakfast is a screen and the Wall Street Journal. It is painful and difficult to hold a face-to-face conversation when being force to make glazed over eye contact with a zoned out zombie-like human. When I push his buttons he shifts around in his seat and impatiently glances around the room. It is an accomplishment to get him to leave the phone on the counter and engage out loud with words. Recently, he actually had a panic attack when his phone blended in with the black credenza (where I put it) and he couldn’t find it.
Every day machines are encroaching on the territory of the human mind just a little bit more. My family is at the beck and call of a ring and as automated as a voicemail. Except for me. I would sneak my rotary phone into my bedroom late at night so my parents wouldn’t hear me talking on it. I used to muffle the ringer with a pillow. Yet, my father would still be yelling at me about friends calling. Today, I am a species in danger of becoming extinct because I can only be reached via landline or email.
An exchange of verbal words are as vintage as playing telephone with tin cans. This single string line was even cheaper and more advantageous than the two-party line when I had to wait for the other person to end their call before I could make mine. Now, a connection in life only requires a finger to text. In this version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers voice boxes have been removed and replaced with a circuit board containing the brains of a phone. Machines have taken the heart out of love, and the silent treatment in a blaring world of electronics goes on.
I never would have thought that years ago the slogan for the Yellow Pages Phone Directory, “Let your fingers do the walking,” would turn out to be a literal means of communication. But the addiction to cell phones, and World of Warcraft, is here to stay in my son’s future. As I stand by and watch my fingers itch to move the phone my son’s fingers twitch to hold on to it, even in the bathroom. With downcast eyes I must learn to look up and accept that what I find rude and inconsiderate is sadly just a new link to hyperspace. I guess it’s not much different from a Vulcan talking into his transmitter to be beamed back up to the mother ship. In the end, all that really matters is that my ET phones home.